Democratic mayor, public safety commissioner voted out in Saratoga Springs

Saratoga Springs elects new mayor, public safety commissioner

Two candidates beat two key democratic incumbents in Saratoga Springs.

Tuesday’s election meant a city hall shakeup in Saratoga Springs as voters selected a new mayor and public safety commissioner and ousted the two Democrats currently on the job. 

Republican John Safford defeated Democratic Mayor Ron Kim in the race for mayor, and Republican Tim Coll claimed victory over Democratic Public Safety Commissioner Jim Montagnino.

Both Republican Party victors ran on the idea of eliminating drama in city hall, a message voters appeared to embrace.

“It’s really hard to read the tea leaves of the voting, particularly when you have two three-way races,” Montagnino told NewsChannel 13 about the results Wednesday.

Kim and Montagnino were elected in 2021.

Mayor Kim conceded overnight, stopping by Safford’s campaign to give his best.

“I’m grateful to [Mayor Kim], he offered his help during the transition, and so I’m looking forward to that,” Safford told NewsChannel 13 on election night.  

The races for mayor and public safety commissioner intertwined as the behavior of Mayor Kim and Montagnino, former friends, took center stage inside city hall. 

Montagnino finished third after Republican Tim Coll and third-party candidate Kristen Dart, who took second place in the unofficial tally. 

Asked about the drama between him and Mayor Kim, Montagnino said of his former friend, “Ron Kim and I were personal friends for 15 years. We had an agreement between us that I won’t run if you don’t run. It’s really unfortunate that the circumstances surrounding the disruption of the February 7 council meeting began a rift that hasn’t yet healed. […] In terms of would I do things differently, I don’t think that I would. I took the position that I thought was the right position.”

A major divide between the two was the handling of protests by the city’s Black Lives Matter group. Montagnino came under scrutiny earlier this week for a mailer related to one protest that Democrats in the city blasted as racist. He said his position that Saratoga BLM is a hate group has not changed. 

Newly-elected Public Safety Commissioner and former FBI agent Tim Coll ran on the idea that city hall needs a change. 

“I just think it’s time that we move forward,” he said. “I intend to, and I’ve already done it, meet with the other commissioners and talk to them and treat them with dignity and respect and professionalism. I think it’s important that the leaders in this city set the tone or the message for the rest of the community and lead by example.”

The most pressing task, Coll said, is forming a more permanent plan to address homelessness in the city. Safford has said the issue is at the top of his priority list as well.

“It’s going to take a holistic approach with social services, and unfortunately, we have a law enforcement intersection,” Coll said.

Coll and Safford take office on January 1.